The $4.6 billion Question


$4.6 billion is a lot of cash, but in metro Vancouver, $4.6 billion (well that is the amount funded) buys you a mere 12.8 km of the decidedly obsolete light metro system, now called Movia Automatic Light Metro, used on the Millennium and Expo Lines.

So much money, for so little transit.

It maybe impertinent to point out that the City of Caen, France opened a 16 km tramway which cost a mere CAD $373 million.

So here is a “reality check” on transit.

The public (taxpayer) has anted up over $10 billion so far for the SkyTrain light-metro system. The province/region could only afford a new transit line every decade or so. So now, we have “funded” (read, taxpayer funded) $4.6 billion, which is supposed to build 12.8 km of line. This is almost half the amount of money spent for the entire system to date.

This means the region will get 12.6 km of light metro for the next decade and counting!

So let us look at unfunded projects.

1) The Expo Line rehab, which is needed before the line is extended to Langley to increase capacity beyond its legal operating certificate of 15,000 pphpd. This cost is between $2 billion to $3 billion.

2) The UBC subway extension from Arbutus to UBC, $3 billion to $4 billion.

3) The Langley extension from Fleetwood, $1.6 to $2 billion.

A honourable mention must also be made for:

1) The Canada line rehab, to increase its capacity beyond 9,000 pphpd, $1.5 billion to $2 billion and must be done before any thought of extending the line.

2) The North Shore rapid transit transit link, $5 billion or more including a new crossing.

We are looking at a minimum of $6.6 billion to extend the light metro network to UBC and Langley

Not going to happen any time soon, as the current rate of spending around $2.5 billion every decade to build and extend the light metro network, one can see the current plans completed in about four decades! This is the fools game, the Provincial NDP and Liberals, metro mayors and their various bureaucracies and TransLink is playing with the public!

And what about the Fraser Valley, Vancouver island and the hurtlands, which is just about everywhere else in the province?

Well, it seems they can whistle in the wind, the majority of seats for the legislature are in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

As our most decidedly dishonest Mayors and bureaucrats promise transit nirvana, the reality is that Vancouver and surrey will get light-metro extensions which will do little alleviating congestion and will further balkanize our bus system which now is designed to feed the light metro to pretend it is successful!

As the current light metro system has done little in attracting the motorist from the car, building more and expecting different results, for the taxpayer , is scary stupid.

And then there are the operating costs, which is about $400 million annually for the light metro system, no one has given a thought to that. Extending the light metro network to UBC and Langley  will add at least another $100 million to the annual SkyTrain subsidy

Climate change be damned we are building light metro to placate land speculators and land developers by building light metro to act as a driver for condo towers and easy profits for political friends. Political payoffs come before the taxpayer’s ability to pay and Climate Change in BC.

I am gobsmacked at the base hypocrisy, or worse dishonesty by our regional and provincial politicians on transit.


Could the Broadway subway become another Charleroi? Huge costs to build, no money to operate it and is left to rot unused for decades.



One Response to “The $4.6 billion Question”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I thought it was $4.46 Billion but with inflation who cares, what’s a mere $140 million between friends. Heck, even the Daily Hive pointed out that if the Conservatives win the federal infrastructure bank program takes a hit. Same amount of money but given out over a period 15 not 12 years, that’s effectively a 20% drop of per year funding. That also means less money for individual projects or forcing a stretching out of all planned program funding over 3 more years. That will effectively decrease the available pot of money because there are time limits on projects in the infrastructure bank program.

    Even if the Liberals win, spending for transit projects will face increased competition from piped, road, national railway and housing infrastructure requests. The only BC infrastructure projects the Conservatives have mentioned is the replacement of the Massey Tunnel with a possible bridge or tunnel project. The only transit projects are Toronto based Subway projects.

    Regardless who wins everybody was warned this year the federal infrastructure bank will only give a maximum funding of 33% of the project cost unless, it’s a federal agency project (like VIA Rail) or its a infrastructure project that is so expensive the municipality in question can’t realistically support its 33% portion. Even Toronto will have to pay 20% on the next 2 subway projects (total cost $16.5 Billion), that’s $3.3 Billion for just the residents of the City of Toronto on the combined cost of the next 2 subway lines. For one of the projects, York Region will have to put in $530 Million or 20% as well.

    The point is that, Translink is going to have to put in much more than they have been recently. The mayor’s council is going to have to find more for Stage 3 of their 10 year transit plan. The 20% they paid for Stage 2 will grow to a minimum of 33% in stage 3, regardless who wins the federal election. The 40% (Federal), 40% (Provincial) and 20% (Translink) era for rapid transit capital funding in Vancouver is over. This means overly expensive Skytrain projects will have to be rethought.

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